Just a week after winning the Spanish GP, Mark Webber ruled the roost on the streets of Monte Carlo with a dominant victory in Monaco – moving him into the lead of the F1 drivers’ standings in the process.
The Red Bull ace qualified on pole position and led the race from start to finish, despite a race hit by no fewer than four safety car periods.
When the lights went out, Webber made the perfect start to lead into turn one, but behind, team-mate Sebastian Vettel was able to jump ahead of Robert Kubica. Further back, Rubens Barrichello jumped up to sixth from ninth but Jenson Button went the other way and slipped down to eleventh.
Although the pack made it through the opening corner unscathed, the safety car was soon deployed when Nico Hulkenberg – who had dropped to the rear of the field with a clutch issue – went off going through the tunnel.
There was further drama behind the safety car when points leader Button then stopped with smoke pouring from the rear of his McLaren – possibly down to the team failing to remove a blanking plate from the sidepod as the Briton headed round to the grid.
The safety car period allowed Fernando Alonso – who had started from pitlane due to his practice accident – to make an early stop for medium tyres and it would prove to be a key call for the Ferrari man as the race wore on.
When the safety car peeled in, Webber led from Vettel and Kubica with Felipe Massa slotting into fourth and Lewis Hamilton and Barrichello rounding out the top six. Michael Schumacher had jumped Nico Rosberg for seventh at the start with Tonio Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil rounding out the top ten.
Those positions would remain unchanged as Webber eased away at the front of the field with all eyes on Alonso at the back as he set about making up places. Although Lucas di Grassi in the Virgin made it difficult, Alonso soon cleared the backmarkers and when Hamilton became the first runner to stop and rejoined just ahead of Alonso, it became clear that the early stop had put him right into contention.
By the time all the stops had taken place, Webber continued to lead from Vettel, Kubica, Massa and Hamilton, but Alonso had now jumped to sixth ahead of Schumacher, Rosberg, Sutil and Barrichello – who was one of the big losers during the stops.
Barrichello’s race wouldn’t last for long, however, when he suffered a spin into the barriers at the top of Beau Rivage to bring out the second safety car period. The third caution period would follow soon afterwards while a loose drain near the incident was checked.
A series of quick laps meant Webber was able to build his lead after each restart but there was still a late scare when Jarno Trulli ran over the rear of Karun Chandhok’s Hispania at Rascasse as Webber came up to lap the pair. With Trulli’s Lotus coming to rest on top of the Indian drivers car, the final safety car was deployed which would lead the field round until it peeled off into the pits at the end of the final lap.
That allowed Webber to take the flag ahead of Vettel, with the Red Bull duo now level on points in the standings – although Webber takes the lead having won two races. Kubica had to settle for third ahead of Massa and Hamilton but Schumacher managed to steal sixth from Alonso after the Spaniard got out of shape at Rascasse. Ferrari was set to appeal against the move although Mercedes chief Ross Brawn was sure the positions would stand.
1. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 78aps 1hr 50m 13.355s
2. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault +00m 00.4s
3. Robert Kubica Poland Renault-Renault +00m 01.6s
4. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 02.6s
5. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes +00m 04.3s
6. Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes-Mercedes +00m 05.7s
7. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari +00m 06.3s
8. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes +00m 06.6s
9. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes +00m 06.9s
10. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Force India-Mercedes +00m 07.3s
11. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari +00m 08.1s
12. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari +00m 09.1s
13. Vitaly Petrov Russia Renault-Renault +5 laps [DNF]
14. Karun Chandhok India HRT-Cosworth +8 laps [DNF]
15. Jarno Trulli Italy Lotus-Cosworth +8 laps [DNF]
Rtd Heikki Kovalainen Finland Lotus-Cosworth 58 laps completed
Rtd Bruno Senna Brazil HRT-Cosworth 58 laps completed
Rtd Rubens Barrichello Brazil Williams-Cosworth 30 laps completed
Rtd Kamui Kobayashi Japan BMW Sauber-Ferrari 26 laps completed
Rtd Lucas di Grassi Brazil Virgin-Cosworth 25 laps completed
Rtd Timo Glock Germany Virgin-Cosworth 22 laps completed
Rtd Pedro de la Rosa Spain BMW Sauber-Ferrari 21 laps completed
Rtd Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 2 laps completed
Rtd Nico Hulkenberg Germany Williams-Cosworth 0 laps completed
Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 15.192s lap 71